I am really sad about the death of TIM BROOKE TAYLOR, a true comedy legend and large part of so many childhoods, thanks to the legendary Goodies. He was certainly a massive part of my childhood. He seems to have been a really nice man. This cruel virus is taking the lives of so many people. Rest in peace Tim..I was honoured to interview him a few years ago for a book on Orson Welles. Here is what he told me about his adventures with Welles in the late sixties..
Tim Brooke Taylor is best known as one third of The Goodies - alongside Bill Oddie and Graeme Garden - the madcap 70s comic team watched by millions all over the UK every week. Tim is also known for his work in landmark TV shows like At Last the 1948 Show with John Cleese, and as a panelist on the ongoing I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue radio show. One of the most obscure projects he was a part of, though only obscure because it was never released, was Orson Welles' brilliant One Man Band film. The movie is split into five segments, and Tim appears as a bowler hatted reporter in the Swinging London section. Though not officially released, this segment can be viewed, in scratchy quality it must be added, online as part of the Lost Films of Orson Welles. It's surreal, mad, and absolutely unmissable.
"Graeme Garden and I made two series of a sketch show called Broaden Your Mind in 1968 and 69," Tim told me. "We were watching the first programme of the second series in Graeme’s flat. As it ended Graeme’s phone rang. He answered it, said a few words, put the phone down and said ‘that was Orson Welles’. I remember saying ‘What a coincidence, I was expecting a call from the Pope’.
"It was Orson. He’d seen some of the first series and got our phone numbers. We saw him the next day and agreed to write and shoot some stuff with him. Which we did. We were gobsmacked, but got on with him really well. The One Man Band Song was one of Bill Oddies’s which we had included in one of our shows."
"He confirmed one of the stories I’d heard. He was on the East Coast trying to impress a girl with his conjuring tricks. He asked her to pick a card. Then he asked her to say where she’d like that card to be– on the mantelpiece, in her handbag, or written in the sky. ‘Oh, written in the sky,’ she squeaked. They walked outside and there it was, the 10 of Hearts written in the sky, thanks to Orson’s pre-arrangement. She looked at him and instead of showing amazement she said, ‘Oh you faked the pack.’ I asked him if he ever saw her again. ‘Never,’ he said."
Tim got to work with Welles again on a film. "Coincidentally I was cast in a European Film called 13 Chairs, or 12+ One," Tim told me recently. "Denis Norden had written part of it and had recommended me. I went to film in Cinecitta and was in the producer’s office (an American Ed Pope). Ed Pope was on the phone trying to persuade Orson to do the film. He was running through a list of the cast, big names but Orson was not liking them. Eventually Mr Pope got to my name. He had no clue who I was and asked where I might be. I nervously put my hand up and was given the phone with the whisper ‘get him to do it’. A limo was ordered for me to meet Orson in a café in the Via Veneto.
"Orson’s first words were ‘this is a load of crap’. He was partly right but I kept pointing out the good bits as I desperately wanted him to do it. We agreed to completely re-write his scenes. He originally was going to be a magician, but we re-wrote the scene with him as a ham actor doing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
"We shot most of it in a cinema in Rome and some in the Players Theatre in London. They were evening shoots in Rome. Orson would occasionally get annoyed and ask me to take over. He’d usually had a drink or two and I found myself shouting ‘Get over there you big fat pouf’. He’d stop, glare and then smile and return to doing what I’d asked. He knew he and I were on the same side. It’s not a great film, but I thought he was wonderful and terrific to work with."